In Honor of My Mother

On this 28th day of February, I am proud to honor my late mother, Alease Elizabeth Crawford Hilliard Chapman. My mother was a GIFT! She was the heart and soul of our family, and my most loyal fan and supporter for my entire life. We were mother and son, but I became her protector and covering after my father died and she was widowed at 50 years of age. My mother is in the presence of our living Christ now. However, since I was a boy, I always made a big deal about my mother’s birthday – from the special stones I painted to the dandelions I picked. Of course, those gifts grew along with my age and my ability to be a greater blessing to her.

In February 2011, we established THE DONALD AND ALEASE HILLIARD FOUNDATION. This foundation was established to honor my mother in life and, later, in death by helping families. We decided to help children go to nursery school whose parents could not afford it. Today, my parents’ foundation honors my mother on what would have been her 83rd birthday with three scholarships for three families chosen by the recipient institution. They are: (1) The Perth Amboy YMCA, (2) The Puerto Rican Association Daycare, and (3) The Helping Hands Nursery.

In addition, the Donald Hilliard, Jr. family presents a gift of $1,000 to The Cathedral International Sunday School and Children’s Nursery to honor those volunteers who teach and embrace our children each week. We also make a special gift to Eastern University, where my parents pieced together enough money to get me started as a student. The rest of my tuition was paid with loans and grants. What was then known as Eastern College, awarded me with my Bachelor of Arts degree and later honored me as Distinguished Alumnus of the Year. Our oldest daughter, Leah, also graduated with both her Bachelors and Masters degrees from Eastern. Finally, our family is also presenting a special gift to Hampton University – our youngest daughter’s alma mater (and her husband’s), as well as The United Negro College Fund and The Autism Foundation.

My mother and father were advocates for education, and there wasn’t a baby my mother could resist holding in her arms. We are a blessed family! For over 30 years, my mother was an active tither and giver to The Cathedral International (formerly known as Second Baptist Church). Today, our family continues her legacy of generosity by presenting these gifts in her honor – from The Foundation and from The Donald and Phyllis Hilliard Charitable Trust.

To God be the glory!

+Donald Hilliard, Jr., D. Min